DENTON, Texas - Following the conclusion of the team final Saturday, the USA Gymnastics Collegiate Championships continued Sunday with the individual event finals. Three Yale gymnasts qualified for event finals with their performances in the team semifinals Friday.
On vault, sophomore Rebecca Chong qualified with her 9.825 Chong finished inside the top five. The sole vault qualifier landed in second-place during qualifications, one of the highest positions Yale achieved on Friday. She competed in the first position during finals, competing a yurchenko half earning a 9.8125. For individual event final competition, scoring is broken down by the average of four judge scores. Her score placed in her the fourth spot, taking away a top five finish at USA Collegiate National Championships.
"Nationals is a 3-day, nonstop, adrenaline rush. Qualifying to event finals was so exciting. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to compete this weekend and represent Yale. I am super proud of both myself and this record-breaking team. It has been a season for the books," said Chong.
As for the uneven bars, first-year Jacey Baldovino and junior Jessica Wang qualified on Friday earning a 9.850 and 9.900. Wang's near-perfect bar score gave her the top qualifying spot. Baldovino secured a fourth-place qualifying finish, tying Claire Ryan from Brown and Bria Northrop from TWU. Baldovino hit her bar set with no troubles, posting a matching 9.850 from her qualifying round. Her fantastic routine placed her in the second-place spot overall, concluding her outstanding freshman season. Wang added yet another near-perfect routine to her bundle of 9.900's this season. With all the hard work placed on the event this season, she rightfully earned the 2018 USA Collegiate National Bar Champion title. Two Yale Bulldogs took the gold and silver on this event.
"I feel honored to have won second-place on bars during the individual finals. Bars has been a struggle lately, so being able to compete the routine I know I am capable of gives me a lot of confidence. To have Jess as the gymnast in first was amazing. Standing beside my teammate and friend was incredible. She works hard and without a doubt deserved the title," said Baldovino.
"Winning the uneven bars title at Nationals is such a great end to an amazing season that my team and I have had. Especially for me, it represents the progress I've made since coming back from my Achilles injury last year. Honestly, I was nervous to live up to being Beam National Champion my freshman year, so it feels incredible to be able to reach that potential again. It inspires me to keep working hard for next year," said Wang.
Sophomore Jade Buford took home sixth place in the all-around competition out of both qaulifying sessions Friday night.
End of season awards were distributed by the USA Collegiate National Staff before event finals. Head coach Barbara Tonry earned the 2018 USA Collegiate National Head Coach of the Year Award. Last season, Tonry earned the 2017 ECAC Head Coach of the Year.
"I am so honored to receive this award; however, this was made possible because of the team's fantastic accomplishments this season," said Tonry.
This marks the conclusion of the best seasons in school history for the Yale gymnastics team. The 2018 team rewrote the record books and won the second ECAC Championship in school history and 15th Ivy Classic title since 2005. The team will now look forward to 2019 and hopes to continue its widespread success from 2018.
report by Anna Jennings '20, Yale Sports Publicity